Bethany House in Rathgar, Dublin 6, was a bible thumping hellhole, a ‘mother and child’ home, a place of institutionalised abuse and, possibly murder.
It was Protestant-run, not formally linked to the Church of Ireland, and was therefore not included on the government’s redress scheme for victims of institutionalised abuse.
History Ireland magazine last year revealed a total of 219 unmarked graves linked to Bethany (for the period 1922-49) at Mount Jerome Cemetery.
Niall Meehan, of Griffith College establised from records that 54 of the children had died from convulsions, 41 from heart failure and 26 from marasmus, a form of malnutrition.
As many as 86 deaths, or well over one-third of Bethany’s 219 child deaths in the 28 years between 1922-1949, occurred in one five-year period, during 1935-39.
Almost two-thirds (132) died in the 10-year period, 1935-44.
The worst year was 1936 when there were 29 deaths, with six babies buried the day they died. Eight more babies are buried in Mount Jerome (29) than were reported internally (21) to Bethany’s managing committee.
Mary Coughlan (and how we miss her) was the last Fianna Fail minister to deny the few, elderly survivors any recompense. The survivors believe their requests have been denied because they are a “minority grouping”.
They have now written to the new minister and await a change of heart.
Bethany Survivors letter here (Indy media)